Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Back in the Saddle

Coffee in the Los Angeles skyline mug-creamer courtesy of the little fridge from the studio that now lives in the middle of our kitchen, the dishwasher provides my music for the moning (I could have fixed the previous typo but it hit me as particularly appropriate--moning, moaning, morning?). It's 8:32 here in Atlanta and 5:32 in las Vegas and in my body we're not sure what time it is, but it's damn early. Today I enter of all the ACRE ordes into the computer and email off the confirmations to the galleries. Then it's time to get a kiln load in and put out all the fires that flared in my absence--like the explosion of the one-year-old fridge in our house. I don't think it actually exploded, but the noise of the bearings going and the heat it started to put out made an explosion (apparently, I wasn't here for any of it) seem imminent.

Last comments on ACRE before I hit the day... Even with the perfect booth and lots of great new work there's no guarantee you're going to have a good show. ACRE needed a lot more buyers in order for everyone to have a good show. We were lucky because our work appealed to the buyers who did come. Others with as good or better work and great booths might not have done well because their buyer demographic didn't show. The Wholesalecrafts people do an excellent job promoting the show, soliciting people to attend, and rewarding attendance (free shopping credits) but it's a second year show in a really tough market. It's amazing that the show was as good as it was with the economy in the state it is, the fact that it's an election year, and with Iraq still a mess of unknown proportions.

Kudos also go to the exhibition services side of the house. Champion is an excellent vendor. We were not unusual in having our work waiting in our booth by set-up time. And the empties were brought out really fast after the show--none of this waiting till the carpet gets rolled up nonsense. The free drayage at the show is also a really big boon for the artists (like us) who are trying to expand their booth design and size and who have outgrown carrying everything in our personal vehicles. I am dreading the BMAC in August with the drayage that Hargrove charges if you don't use them as your carrier. My experience last year was use them and pay huge freight fees (as opposed to the shipping charges incurred if merchandise--like foam core, plastic pallets or gridwalls--is shipped via the manufacturer direct to the show) or don't use them and pay exorbitant drayage. But that's August. This is April, and Champion was great.

The convention center is also really well serviced--the restrooms are always clean, fully stocked and fully functional. The Philadelphia convention center restrooms have been a pit for the past couple of years with broken faucets, lethargic cleaning people, no soap and few paper towels--but I digress, this is April, and Las Vegas, and great.

I am looking forward to next year's ACRE show, and I take it as a personal challenge to look at my booth, my work, my pricing and my self-promotion over the next year to see where I can make improvements to continue to increase my sales and grow my glass business. Now I go find a refrigerator repairman.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

ACRE in Review

Just finished a grande Starbucks with lots of half n half, the clacking of flip-flops and the chatter of travelers at the airport for my music--interrupted by the PA system with the message, "Attention please, would the passenger who left his hearing aid and false teeth in the men's room please return to claim them... if he can hear this message. Thank you." There you are. That sums up Las Vegas.

I always plan to do a big review of a show when it's over, but when the time comes to write I end up at a loss. I could gripe about economy and the scarcity of buyers, I could note the increasing sense of desperation and fear I see in many of the artists as they see their orders shrinking and scramble to figure out what they could do differently, but instead, I'm going to focus on the positives. There is no doubt that it is harder to make a living in the fine craft sector than it has been in previous decades, but as I can't do anything to change that difficulty, I'm going to write about those things I see making a difference in the level of success an artist has at a show.

I wrote on day 2 or 3 about the long set-up time we had. We had a commensurate break-down at six and a half hours. However I think it was my best booth ever, and your booth set-up is the first thing that differentiates you from the artists. We went for a clean white canvas and relied on the work to provide the color and interest pop. Buyers are there to see your work and if it doesn't grab them in the 18 seconds (or whatever) that they give you in a scan as they walk by, then you've lost them.

We're lucky in that a lot of our work is big and is, or can be, displayed on the walls, but for artists who make smaller more detailed items, a big, beautiful poster of the work in a prominent place in the booth is essential. I still would like to see us shave a lot of time off the set-up, but after this show and the tangible results in sales, I'm not going to skimp on the display. Why spend all the time and money to do a show and then do a lesser display because it's faster and easier to set-up? If you *can* put up the best booth you can design in a short time, great! But in the current market every edge helps and better is more important than quicker.

Another factor for sales success is having new product for every show. We had four new glass colors and nine new glass and metal pieces for this show--and that's just since the Buyer's Market in February. I'm not sure how much new we'll have for August for the Buyer's Market, but the 13 pieces and four colorways we have already added this year (including the new work for the Buyer's Market) is probably enough.

Now to post. More musings tomorrow.

Monday, April 28, 2008

ACRE in Vegas Day 3

No coffee--had a little, but this whole three-hour time change thing has really thrown me off the coffee, a woman placing an order with Elliott Metal next to me for my background music. Yawn. I need more coffee. Day 3 of ACRE started with a little rush and an order, and has now settled down to a mellow contemplative day. It has been a very good show for me. Only the end of the day will tell if it surpasses the February Buyer's Market Show, but it is closing in.

Last night I had dinner with friends Keith and Mike at Bradley Ogden in Caesar's--what an incredible meal! For sheer guts on the part of the chef (and on our part for ordering and eating it) the appetizer of frog's legs adorned with a stinging nettle espuma had to be the most extreme. I had halibut with meyer lemon gnocci and a citrus vinaigrette, Mike had lobster and potato pirogies, and we all shared a Maytag blue cheese souffle. Dinner was a decadent symphony of chocolate cream puffs rice pudding and sorbet (it was more decadent than it sounds).

It's getting busy, got to run.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Viva las Vegas!

Coffee was long ago in a galaxy far, far away, the low, desultory hum of buyers and artists is my music. I am late posting today not because I have been busy taking orders, but because I have been busy... shopping? Chatting? I don't know, the day's just gone! I haven't eaten yet either and I'm just not hungry. Weird. Hello to Dinah--I'm finally posting, and Dave, the pic is for you. I look out my window to the mountains, but if I look right, Rosanne Barr is waving at me from the hotel tower next door. It's a bit... disconcerting.

Day 2 has been very slooooooow. Yesterday was an unusually strong Day 1 for me, today has been a normal Day 2 for a slow show. I'd like to say that I have used the time to get caught up on my order write-up and scheduling, but I have done more chatting with other artists and their spouses/partners than I have working.

The big news of the day is that next year's ACRE show (yes, we're already looking ahead to next year's show...) is the end of March instead of the end of April and it will be in a different hall which means new booth locations for everyone. Gulp. I went ahead and put my application in as I am already committed to doing the show (Elliott Metal Works and I are storing our booths together here after the show--including all the work--because shipping it back and forth one time would cost as much as a new booth) so I figured I might as well get my application in. The end of March is not good--it's only a month after the Buyer's Market next year. I would like them better spaced so I could get repeat orders from them instead of one or the other. But it is what it is.

The secret to getting orders (or at least retail inquiries) is to try to post. I've taken a couple more orders and need to get them all entered and scheduled before heading out to dinner with friends tonight. Ciao!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

ACRE Day 1

Coffee is stone-cold in the Starbucks go-cup, the voices of buyers and artists rise and fall like the notes of the calliope at the carnival. It is 12:30 pm and I just sat down for my first relaxed breath since 7:00 am when we got here. My optimism yesterday was misplaced--we left at 9:30 last night. I got back to the hotel and had a glass of sauvignon blanc and a Snickers bar in bed for dinner.

This morning I used every minute till 45 minutes after the show opened at 10:00 to finish set-up. In all it took about 20 hours to get the two booths set up--and there were three of us working. We need a better process. I think it's my best booth ever--and my best work, but there has got to be a quicker good way to get a display up.

The show started with a bang--I took a big order from a new gallery in Sedona 45 minutes before the doors even opened. Since then there has been a lot of buzz, a lot of traffic, and a lot of energy flying around--and one more order. I have high hopes for a good show.

Pics are the incredible booth and the new "Fresh Koi" in a large stand ("Fresh" is a new color and the stand is a simplified Koi--the glass is 24" X 16").

Friday, April 25, 2008

ACRE Set-Up Goes On

No coffee yet, only the faint hum of the traffic 19 floors below and a toothbrush tapping on the sink in the room next door for music. The sun is rising in Vegas. Still being on Eastern time, I woke leisurely and completely refreshed at 5:15 this morning. Since then I have read and replied to all my email (off-line as I am averse to paying $12 for connectivity at the hotel when it will be free at the show in an hour), and I have watched the night sky lighten to a pale slate grey over Vegas and the mountains beyond.

Set-up commenced yesterday just before 2:00 for us and we knocked off at 6:00 with the grid walls all up and covered with foam core where possible (the shared walls are only covered on one side until all the art goes up on that side and then the other side is put up and a lesser amount of work is hung on it). We were pleased (and I was surprised) to find all of our crates waiting for us in the booth and it was the work of a moment to snag a forklift driver and get him to move them around so we could set-up easily and efficiently.

Today the hall opens at 7:00 am and we are planning to be there on the dot (an easy matter as we are all on Eastern time). I am not going to make any rash predictions about getting done by noon, but I am cautiously optimistic that we won't be there all night. I am looking forward to sitting by the pool this afternoon with a frufty drink at hand and working on my price sheets and other packet materials for the show.

Now off to shower and go in search of coffee. Oh yeah, and I think I'll get dressed in there somewhere too.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Vegas Bound!

No coffee--way to stressed to add more acid to the stomach--airport security warnings, airport music and traveler chatter as my background noise. Time to switch to the iPod and "Closer to Fine" by the Indigo Girls. Yeah, that's better. And I'm almost off to ACRE. I woke this morning at 3:30 and by 6:30 I had built up a full-blown panic attack which exploded all over the kitchen. It wasn't pretty. Why so stressed? I have no idea. I was packed and ready to go last night. Everything fit, I got everything done, what could be wrong?

Yesterday didn't go as well as I might have hoped. Bettina arrived, Dan and Lee uncrated her, added her wheels and wrangled her into the kiln room, and I opened the lid. Oh no. There should have been eight full banks of elements in the lid and there were only four. The lid was also put together with two sections of fiber board with a seam down the middle and only one row of supports on each side. That'll never last--the boards will warp and fall in no time. So I called Holly at Denver Glass Machinery and we got it all straightened out. There was a misunderstanding about my available power and they built this monster kiln to only use 56 amps instead of a dedicated 80. No harm, no foul and they are sending me a new lid... soon. I hope soon enough. She said to go ahead and use it as is for now.

And now we are getting ready to board. I will arrive this morning and head straight for the convention center for set-up. In a perfect world we will be all done today and ready to go Saturday morning so I won't need to go in tomorrow and can spend the day working on my printed materials... ROFLOL! I kill myself.

Pics of the day: The squirrels are taunting me by bringing the bamboo shoots out onto the path to eat them so I will be sure to see them. Baxter the Spaniel looked the other way, giving the evil eye to pedestrians (who were not, it must be noted, eating the bamboo) through the last opening in the screened in porch before Dan closed it off.

"Danger Zone" by Kenny Loggins just came on the iPod and I am off to Vegas!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Last Seconds Before ACRE!

Coffee in the New York skyline mug, "Ada" by The National on iTunes. Already checked one item off the humongous To Do list this morning, and added three albums by The National to the iPod in preparation for the long plane ride tomorrow. Ack! Ack! Ack! "Stand inside an empty tuxedo with grapes in my mouth waiting for Ada."... Guess you have to be here.

A new headache came in the mail the other day and now I have to decide how much principle $45 buys. It seems that the Illinois Department of Revenue has upgraded their computers from a DOS-based system to a Windows one (one wonders if they got Vista, it would serve them right). In the process, every sales tax account that wasn't zeroed out generated a bill.

It took about a half hour just to get through to them yesterday to find out what was going on with the bill I got. Turns out it was in regards to my sales tax payment from December of 2004. When the woman who was helping me said that I remembered what happened. Back then I mailed my payments in instead of processing them through the wondrous Internet. Thanks to the (in)efficiency of the US Mail service, my payment took about two weeks to get to them (someone hand-carried it by foot maybe?). When I filed it on time I took the timely filers discount of $5. When they processed the payment they denied my $5 credit and billed me $25 or something for filing late.

I called them about the bill and they tracked down the envelope--with the postmark date for the filing--and saw that, indeed, I had filed on time. I was told I might get one more bill and I should ignore it as it would be fixed after that. And it was... till now. I blame Bill Gates. The original $5 is now $45 (penalties and INTEREST) and I have to decide how much it's worth to try to find all the original documentation from 2004 (or to write a letter detailing what happened if I can't find my original I-talked-to-so-and-so-on-this-date notes). *sigh*

And now--several hours later and after the safe arrival of Bettina--I finally post. It's been a day. I leave with photos of the bamboo shooting, the bamboo hut, J feeding a baby goat, me milking a goat, and the studio backyard with the STUDIO PICNIC TABLE. Whoo hoo.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Where have I Been?!?

Wildhorse "Negrette" in the Riedel stemless, "The Return of the King" (the movie, not just the soundtrack) in the background. So, hey! Where's Glass Incarnate been? It's been a very busy couple of days in the glass studio and almost none of it had to do with getting ready for ACRE--even though I leave Thursday morning at 8:30. Won't THAT make tomorrow fun!

So far this week the shipping supplies arrived, the frit arrived but the sheet glass is still at Bullseye--fortunately I have enough for now, and I found out the kiln is scheduled to arrive Thursday... I am most unhappy with Denver Glass Machinery about this last fact. I made it very plain that I had to have it before Thursday or it would have to wait until my return. I was assured Monday that it went out last week and would be delivered in four days. What, apparently, they did not understand is that the delivery schedule is four days not including the pick-up day OR weekends, and it went out Friday... do the math. Fortunately the shipping company, when I called them to check the delivery date, was VERY accommodating and they red-sheeted it through and it will now be delivered tomorrow. Keep your fingers crossed.

New at the studio since the last post: There is a ramp leading to the shed, more glass has been moved from the old studio over to the shed, the floor has been supported with eight new columns and a couple of big beams, there is a lovely 10 ft bamboo hut lashed together in the studio yard with over 100 new bamboo shoots (covered in Tanglefoot) coming up next to it, and the porch is almost completely screened in (to be finished tomorrow)! Much glass? No. I am working up samples and a proposal for the sign for a new gallery in O'Hare Airport in Chicago, and have done more experiments with Lee the glass blower on incorporating blown pieces into kilnformed work, but there hasn't been much in the way of production.

Tomorrow there is packing, and the arrival (hope, hope) of Bettina, and the end of the contractor week. There is also somehow, somewhere the updating of the website, the 800 word article for Profitable Glass, the invoicing and other assorted paperwork. Oh yes, and a pick-up of all my remaining work at one of my local galleries that is closing the end of the month. Sadness.

And now a Sprout needs to be bathed and put to bed, and I wait for a Spouse to be finished minding the Pennsylvania primary and to come home. Tomorrow I post before the day runs away with me.

Friday, April 18, 2008


Coffee in the Washington skyline mug, "The Irish Rover" by the Pogues featuring the Dubliners on iTunes. I am getting into this song theme thing. I picked that song--a new one for me--because it has the word "goats" in it and I am off to see the goats (and to milk one too!) with J's kindergarten class this morning. This afternoon it's a full kiln load and maybe the beginning plans for adding hot work to Siyeh Studio... ooooOOOOOooooh!

Yesterday I tweaked the front page of my website a bit and today I'll do a bit more. I'll also put the shipping room back together (new box storage ooooOOOOOooooh!), order shipping supplies, and send out a few more invoices. Next week sees the arrival of a big glass delivery, Bettina (the new big kiln), and the shipping supplies. Next week is also ACRE and, dare I say it?, I'm not ready yet... Now, off to the goats! (Goat pic courtesy of Windrift Hill Soaps in Conrad Montana)

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Another Big Thursday

Coffee in the Denver skyline mug (ah, the comforts of home--it may not be mocha, but it's BIG!), I am listening one last time to all the songs from last week's THEME which was... Songs That Have the Word "Disney " In Them! Well, they all do except the Donnas song which was a random play and sparked the idea with the line "...Or we'll be doing time in Annaheim.". Thanks to Song Lyrics for the great site. All I had to do was go there, do a lyrics search for "Disney", then head to the iTunes store for downloads (all my choices were available), and, Voila, instant themed playlist!

Today is Thursday. I have a gallery pick-up this morning, a write-up to do for pieces I am donating to a local school auction, a glassblower friend who fired a test piece yesterday is coming back to do a couple more this afternoon, I have to get back in touch with my landscaper about finishing the front studio yard, there is a full kiln load to get in and Denver Glass Machinery to utz about the status of my new kiln (when, when, WHEN?), and lots of web work to do at gymnastics and ballet this afternoon.

Last night was date night so my spouse was unsurprised when we ended up at Home Depot. It was HIS brilliant idea to rent one of their trucks, enabling me to buy a picnic table, 50 stones for a retaining wall (a nice 1100 lb workout unloading them), and a big, gorgeous yellow Lady Banks rose--all for the studio, and all on one year deferred financing (the rose tipped the amount into the range for the free financing, it wasn't on the original list). The stones are for the south side of the shed to build a raised bed for the $2 azaleas I got at Home Depot on the last trip. Now I just need good dirt...

There's more to a glass studio than glass in the spring.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Day of the Contractor

Coffee is a mocha in a... blue NJ (for New Jersey) & IBM "Perfect Together" mug... What's THAT all about? Music is some young punky sounding guy going la la la la la. Dave says it's the New Pornographers--he's looking up the name of the song on his iTouch as I continue typing. Ah, it's "Broken Breads". He is annoyed that I asked now as he had been waiting for me to ask on a previous song and he was prepared to reply, "Why Brenda, this is "Jackie Dressed in Cobras" by the New Pornographers." Smug Spouse to Disgruntled Spouse all in a matter of minutes. Heh. As Dave is with me and the mug is... heinous... I must be at Kavarna! And I am.

Today I update the website in preparation for ACRE. I also work on my price lists (lots of new pieces to add) for the show and a file of pictures (again? still?) to have on a cd/in a printed catalog. (Ooh, Kavarna has good music this morning: "Fake Empire" by the National just came on. The music almost makes up for the high speed ceiling fans freezing me out. Don't they know it's cold out there this morning?)

While I am computing, much is happening at the studio. Dan the carpenter is rebuilding the cardboard box storage in the shipping room, finishing the ramp for the new shed, and starting to screen in the front porch today. Stacy and Dan's helper are moving two cases of glass from the shipping room to the shed and as much glass from the basement to the shed and the coldroom as they can while Dan buys materials at Home Depot. Then the three of them are all moving the sandblast cabinet, the compressor and the vacuum out to the shed too. Brian the electrician has already wired it for the equipment, and moving this little-used equipment out of the mudroom (making it the little-kilns-and-more room) creates room for the vitrigraph kiln, or molds, or both!

The manager of the autobody shop across the street from the studio tried to rent it from me today. He is looking to move in closer with his wife and three kids. I think the studio would be a bit small for them, and, besides, it's a glass studio--not a house. But he didn't want to listen, he kept asking me "How much?". Nice to know I have options if this glass thing doesn't work out.

Now off to Google Map and write-up a story about Hoypoloi and Pop for the website. Got to, got to, got to get the catalog piece working before ACRE!

PS--The fence between the studio and the house is down and the bamboo is shooting! I managed to get a lot of the shoots tagged orange and covered in sticky squirrel-deterrent yesterday, and I hired a guy from down the block to finish the job up today. Take That you pesky grey rats! (Thanks to Solarider for the squirrel pic.)

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Back in the Studio

Coffee in the Los Angeles skyline mug, "Life in Laralay" by Love and Rockets on iTunes. I was supposed to listen to it on Saturday while I was posting, but I didn't post Saturday. Sunday's song was targeted to be "Say It Isn't So" by Bon Jovi and that was the end of the theme music for the week--but I didn't post Sunday either. However all the songs for the week are now listed, what's the theme? What do each and every one of those songs have in common? Answer tomorrow--and remember, if one of you answers first, there are Jessie glass refrigerator magnets at stake!

Today I regroup from the Disneyworld trip, prepare for ACRE, fire a couple of BMAC orders to ship at the end of the week, and work with the carpenter who is building a ramp for the deck, shoring up the studio floor (the glass weighs *a lot* more than was originally speced), and screening in the front porch. I also huddle and shiver and ponder the economy. There are mixed signals all around me as to its state. On the one hand, my orders are up from last year and I feel that my business is currently strong. On the other, I have had two galleries who placed orders at the BMAC ask to pay for their orders with a credit card after their Net 30 terms had passed citing poorer sales in their businesses than anticipated (I hate giving someone credit for 30 days and then having to pay the 2.8% credit card fee on top of it), another new gallery canceled 1/2 its order before I shipped it for the same reason, and my carpenter says for the first time in his life he's really worried about having enough work as he doesn't have jobs already lined up to get him through the rest of the year--very unusual for him. All of these omens and portents have made me pause this morning to consider my strategy for continuing to grow my business through this tough time, and I realize that I might need one (a strategy)--the seat of my pants might not be enough in the times ahead.

On a happier topic--the times just past--I had a great visit with Ron, Christie, Erin, Robert and all the rest of the cast members (Disney has no "employees") from Hoypoloi and Pop in Disneyworld. They work in a crazy-busy environment and are still warm, welcoming, fresh and appreciative of both artists and guests (Disney also has no "customers"). My work does very well at both their locations, and I was glad to have a chance to share my technique, background, new directions in work, collaboration, and passion with lots and lots of people. On the right is a picture of Ron (the owner of the galleries) and me looking at the newest colorway ("Fresh") in the collaborative piece "Balance".

Now to the kilns--or more paperwork. I have lots of both to get caught up on.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Disney Day 3

Just finished a glass of BR Cohn '06 cab with dinner, now back in the room weighing the benefits of a glass of chardonnay, "Heels of the Wind" by Elton John is on iTunes (for those trying to keep up with the week's theme). I think the chard will have to wait till tomorrow with our cheese plates (dessert from our Disney dining plan from tonight) watching the fireworks. Right now, after a full day at Typhoon Lagoon, I am exhausted. And I need to drink a couple more bottles of water before bed to replace what the sun took today. Today the closest I came to glass was getting my order in with Bullseye. It's amazing how fast I am running through the stuff... well, maybe not. I have been shipping a lot out too, and the pieces are getting bigger and bigger. Now off to bed. Tomorrow, an evening in the gallery at Pop! (And Cirque du Soleil's La Nouba).

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Can You Say "Princess"?

It's way past coffee time (again) but the song is "Red Vines" by Aimee Mann. Anyone have a guess what common thread binds these songs together? C'mon, big prize! Guess!

It was a great day at the Magic Kingdom for all: Jessie got to dress like a princess (Jasmine) and have her picture taken with lots of Disney cast members (and got their autographs), Dave successfully avoided the Small World, and I got to ride both the Pirates of the Caribbean and the Haunted Mansion. The day culminated in dinner at Jiko at the Animal Kingdom lodge, and then we took a boat (after a bus) back to our resort. I only have a few photos as I forgot to bring either of the adapters for the Nikon...

Now face paint has been washed off and bed is the goal. Tomorrow: Typhoon Lagoon. Saturday: Pop Gallery, La Nouba (Cirque du Soleil show) and Shopping at downtown Disney. Sunday: Pool, Pop, a leisurely French dinner and fireworks at Epcot for the adults and a Mickey kids camp for J. Home Monday. This week it's a tough life being a glass artist!

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

A Visit to the Mouse

I'm in between beverages at the moment, but I am listening to "Tokyo Storm Warning" by Elvis Costello on iTunes as I blog and wait for our luggage to arrive (another song from this week's theme). Yes indeedy, we're visiting the Mouse! J is off at the Mad Hatter's tea party (no adults allowed), Dave and I are relaxing (and waiting for luggage), the vacation/work trip has begun.

There was a very exciting lead-up to the trip alluded to in the previous post and I will elaborate on the details while I wait. Friday afternoon I ordered my pedestals from Easy Pedestal on the marvelous Internet. Monday the purveyors of the aforementioned on-line establishment called to inform me my credit card did not go through. I was puzzled but figured it was just Chase being cautious at a large purchase over said Internet so I called them, confirmed the charge, and thought nothing more about it... till a couple of hours later I got a call from Ladybug Fashions in New York and the woman asked me if I had ordered 25 pairs of sneakers on the web on Saturday to be sent to Colorado... Uh, NO!, was my answer.

I called Chase back and it turns out that someone tried to buy from, Bed Bath and Beyond,, Ladybug, and several other websites on Saturday using my identity and business credit card. Chase had already declined much of it due to suspicion of fraud and the items that did initially go through were caught before they posted to the account. Two days before I am due to leave on a business trip/vacation I have to cancel my business credit card and get a new one. Chase overnighted the new card, we got it in time, the trip is saved! Souvenirs for everyone!

Now the tales of the day before leaving... Dave took J to Zoo camp and I rushed to get glass out of the kiln for two shipments--one to California, one to Pop Gallery in Disneyworld for an artist in the gallery weekend there (here) this weekend. I also met with Lee Ritchie, a local glassblower and Jessie's teacher's husband, and have a couple of buckets of System 96 scrap from him that I am going to experiment with for kiln-forming (this is post-hot-process glass scrap and who knows what's happened with compatibility--to shift or not to shift, that is the question--and contamination. Got the shipments out, a couple of slump loads in (pieces I took out of the kiln at 5:30 this morning and brought with me), met with another friend who is making a Ren Faire costume for J and reviewed patterns, got the tax papers all to the accountant, the notes written for the housesitter, the packing done... You know, when I wrote that I'd write about the day-before stuff I was thinking of a lot more and a lot more interesting recitation. Oh well--I'm tired, drained by the Mouse.

Today, Disneyworld Day 1. There was the tea party with the Mad Hatter and Alice in Wonderland mentioned in the first paragraph for J, a pedicure for me, a walk for Dave, pool time and a nap for all. Then dinner at Narcoossee's at 9:00, the fireworks at 10:00, and now we're all ready to fall into our eyelids. Tomorrow, the Tragic, er, Magic Kingdom! (I've been hanging around Dave too long...)

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Fast Post

Estancia sauvignon blanc in a Reidel stemless white wine glass, "Cryogenic Husk" by Agoraphobic Nosebleeds on iTunes. I don't actually have time to post--dinner is on the table in under 10 seconds according to the spouse, and there is still packing to do after that. Tomorrow I will regale with the tales of identity theft and credit card fraud and the day before leaving for Disneyworld. Now I go. But the song is up for those trying to guess the THEME OF THE WEEK.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Frogs Again?!?

Coffee in the New York skyline mug, "Too Bad About Your Girl" by The Donnas on iTunes. Completely arbitrarily the song today fits a theme that I think I will carry throughout the week. Whoever first guesses the theme will get a set of Jessie's fused glass heart refrigerator magnets.

Ribbit. The theme of the day is Ribbit... again. It's another rainy day in Atlanta and I find myself (still) surrounded by amphibians. Yesterday saw no diminishing of their numbers--though much good work around here was done. Home Depot had 1 gallon azaleas on sale for $2.00 each (I got 15 for the studio and our backyard) and I also got four raspberry bushes and two blackberry bushes for the studio. No rush to plant anything--I need to put in raised beds with good drainage for everything. Good thing I have a lot of landscape timbers.

It's spring break for the J and she sits on the arm of my chair with her head on my shoulder waiting for me to finish posting so we can go to Ikebana. Then she has a playdate with her first best friend in Atlanta (Keziah). I will drop her off and then stop by to see a local glass blower with a lot of free System 96 scrap--I have a great series in mind for it. This afternoon I have to fuse two big pieces to ship to Pop at Disneyworld for my visit there this weekend. Tomorrow is zoo camp for J and a Kavarna day for me. And frogs. Lots and lots and lots of frogs to be consumed.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Friday Frog Legs

Coffee, many hours ago, was in the New Orleans mug, "Shakedown on 9th St." by Ryan Adams on iTunes. The shed is up, the last glass couriered to Elliott Metal Works by the most excellent Stacy for shipment to ACRE. I have almost finished choosing pedestals from Easy Pedestal for my ACRE display and I'll order them within the next hour. The taste of frog is heavy on my tongue.

The installation/construction of the shed from Tuff Shed (Home Depot contractors) today was a revelation. I had forgotten what it's like to get a bid from a contractor and have it done *exactly* as speced--no cost over runs, no time over runs, no hidden costs, no sloppy work, no lesser-quality job or materials, just done right, right on time. I'm so excited I think I might go back to Home Depot tomorrow and buy a picnic table for the backyard at the studio. Got to have an employee lunchroom doncha know (and they have really nice ones on sale right now). And speaking of the studio, I am putting in raspberries and blackberries along a fence by the new path. The fence is ugly (well not *ugly*, but it's just a wooden privacy fence) and the fruit will be enjoyed by all (I feel guilty now that I am depriving the squirrels of the new bamboo shoots).

Since that the shed is up, I need a ramp for it. All I want to do is garden and work in the yard and, guess what, I can do that this weekend! I am not firing! I am not working in the studio at all. Glass Incarnate will become Grass Incarnate, or Bamboo Incarnate, or Shrub and Flower Incarnate. Oh the possibilities...

In the meantime I have a couple more frogs to swallow before my work week ends.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Thursday--Only Four Left This School Year

Coffee was long ago and far away (first in the New York skyline mug, then in a go-cup from the coffee shop on the ground floor of my dentist's office building), "Girls in Their Summer Clothes"by Bruce Springsteen on iTunes. The teeth are cleaned and checked, and the kiln load is in for the day. Now a quick post and then off to pick up the Sprout from school and to prepare for the usual Thursday craziness of gymnastics followed by ballet. I'll be glad when this year's over.

As I juggle Sprout extracurriculars this afternoon I will also finish the layout for my ACRE booth and order the display units (pedestals, tables, whatever) for the tabletop pieces. Then I'll finish my 800 word article for the summer issue of Profitable Glass (the extension of the print article on product viability), and I'll have three more frogs swallowed. Tomorrow is another day of swallowing frogs for me and a run to Greenville for Stacy.

Yesterday when we (Bill and Elaine from EMW and I) reviewed the new glass pieces in the stands we were all less than impressed with the glass for the new koi pieces. Rather than just leaving it, I re-made one of the 24" X 16" rectangular pieces and the 20" round piece this morning. We'll go ahead and take one of the two 24" X 16" rectangular pieces I had yesterday (there is one for a stand and one for the wall) and the 20" round to the show: The round piece is easy to swap back and forth so I can show both, and, who knows, someone might like an aqua and green glass so subtle as to be almost not there (at least to me). The new pieces have to go in the crate at Elliott Metal Works by early afternoon tomorrow to ship off to Vegas, hence the drive for Stacy.

The surprise winner in yesterday's glass was a new colorway I created for the ginko wall piece. It has yellow, lime green and turquoise with swirls of deep purple. Turns out it is stunning with the koi pieces so I added a bit of orange in the pieces for today and I have high hopes for success tomorrow. There's also another Cosmos 24" X 16" rectangular piece in with the koi pieces to replace the one that cracked yesterday when I removed it from the kiln (for the Float stand). Much glass happening in the studio right now.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

The Hinterlands

Coffee in the New York skyline mug, "If Everyone Cared" by Nickleback on iTunes. And the phone rings. The shed for the studio is being delivered/built tomorrow and they just called to let me know the 6' 8" door I special-ordered won't go on the side wall like I need it too. But they are really accommodating and they're going to build me a 6' 3" door instead. Being 6' tall, a 6' door (which is what the shed comes with standard) is a constant recipe for pain.

But the shed is for tomorrow, and I am all about today. Today I am driving to the hinterlands of South Carolina with the new glass pieces for ACRE so they can be shipped out with the Elliott Metal Works pieces in a specially built crate and we can save on shipping. I cracked the kiln at 6:30 this morning a bit reluctantly as I cracked a piece of glass by removing it too soon from yesterday's firing. The crack doesn't go all the way through a 16" X 24" Cosmos panel for a float stand (see pictures in a previous post) and now I'm going to have to refire it or make a new one if the refire fails (it could either fuse back together seamlessly or it could finish cracking all the way) and ship the finished piece to Vegas. The load in the kiln right now is all big pieces--12" X 18", 16" X 24" and 20" round--so I am justifiably nervous.

Now the road is calling and I still need a shower. Ciao!

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

In Without Knocking to the First Saloon I See

Coffee in the Washington DC mug, "The Fields of the Pelenor" by Howard Shore on iTunes. Yep, more Lord of the Rings. A slight sequitur: Viggo Mortensen should have won the academy award for Eastern Promises. What a great scene he did fighting the assassin naked in the baths--and the rest of the movie was really good too. The mug is for Barbara Muth. I can't remember if I have yet written this down, but in case not... When I was writing the acknowledgements for the book I was a bit rushed, and I should have been keeping written track of everyone I wanted to thank from the beginning. But I didn't, and I forgot to include a few at the last minute. The most prominent of the not-mentioned was Barbara. She helped with project ideas (notably the Harlequin candle trays) when the publisher wanted to switch things around. She was also a great sounding board and early encourager in the process--as well as just fun to be around. So thanks, Barbara. And thanks again for the mug.

"The End of All Things"--a very Wagnerian, ride-the-Valkyries-off-to-Valhalla kind of piece from The Lord of the Rings--just came on iTunes reminding me of the day ahead. Today I slog through the last big pieces for the new designs. I write "slog" because it has been tough matching the new metal work to the glass. I need new colorways or reworks of old colorways to best show off the new metal, and I am coming up dry.

The new spring greens with yellow, chartreuse and the new Bullseye pea green with a bit of black (a bit too much black) were uninteresting. Feh. The blue, turquoise and orange/amber inspired by the copper seahorses in our powder room were either boring or just odd. Only the rework of "Conundrum" (shown in Sunday's post below) turned out well. Yesterday I reworked "Water" for the new koi pieces and added some black to "Flame" for the new poppy pieces. As soon as I'm done posting I'm going to go see how they turned out. Wish me luck. I will either do some more tweaking of "Water" and "Flame" for today's pieces or or repeat yesterday's formulae.

Tomorrow I have to take all the new pieces up to Greenville to Elliott Metal Works from whence they will be shipped off to ACRE in Vegas... and I still don't have my display done! I finish with "In Without Knocking" by Mission Mountain WoodBand... I'll be raisin' hell and drinking whiskey down later. Maybe next week in Disney World.